AS many as 10 people a day from Tipperary are contacting a suicide helpline because of the immense financial pressures they are under.
Phoenix Project New Beginnings, a help group that was set up in November 2010, told the Tipperary Star that they were getting calls from people in “all walks of life” to avail of their services.
The group is based in Portarlington and has a panel of solicitors, accountants and clinical counsellors to help those in financial trouble and on the verge of suicide. The service is free of charge.
“We are hearing from farmers, business people, ordinary people who are having difficulties with debts through mortgage arrears, credit union loans, and even harassment from debt collectors,” said chairman William Prior.
The Project was featured on The Frontline with Pat Kenny on June 27, and the Marian Finucane Show with Claire Byrne of July 2, and Mr Prior said that they had had more than 700 calls in the first two weeks since both of these shows.
“There is a massive problem among the farming community. Many farmers won’t contact the IFA because of the fear of stigma or others finding out they are having problems. There are some farmers out there who can’t afford to put diesel into their tractors to save their crops. Many are not even telling their familes about their problems,” he said.
Mr Prior said that Phoenix Prject could assure everybody that the service is confidential. He said that they even made sure that no two people from Tipperary were in their offices on the same day.
“It is importnant to get the message out there that our service is available,” he said. “We are a door to get people help.”
He said that the group also attended court on behalf of people in difficulties and liaises with solicitors and accountants as well as making representations to banks, the Revenue Commissioners, moneylenders, the sheriff and creditors.
“In fact, we even have solicitors and accountants who don’t have the strength to carry on,” he said.
Mr Prior stated that the current financial crisis was unlike anything anybody had faced before, even in the 1980s.
“Back then, the banks had money. A farmer could go to the bank on the strength of his crop or stock and could get help. That option is not there now,” he said.
Phoenix Project New Beginnings is a registered charity and Mr Prior said they were was now looking for someone to help sponsor their activities. They are also looking for people in Tipperary to fundraise in the county on their behalf.
The group can be contacted at 1850-203040; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.phoenixproject.ie